The government should accept today’s decision of the Information Tribunal and release the two sets of cabinet minutes from 2003 discussing the decision to go to war in Iraq, according to the Campaign for Freedom of Information. The Tribunal’s decision, made under the Freedom of Information Act, found that the balance of public interest favoured releasing the minutes.
The Campaign’s director Maurice Frankel said: “The government has four choices. It can release the information and accept the Tribunal view that this is an ‘extreme’ case which does not set a precedent for the future release of cabinet minutes or require ministers to be more reticent at cabinet discussions. Second, it could appeal to the High Court, a process which could go all the way to the House of Lords, adding years of delay. Third, it could try and amend the FOI Act to remove cabinet minutes from its scope. We hope its recent unsuccessful attempt to do this over MPs’ expenses will persuade it not to repeat the exercise. Finally, ministers could exercise the veto which they have built into the Act and overturn the Tribunal’s decision without persuading any court of their case, a wholly unacceptable outcome. We hope it will accept the Tribunal’s decision, release the minutes and recognise that cases where the public interest favours disclosure of such material will be so rare that they can live with it.”
Maurice Frankel or Katherine Gundersen 020 7490 3958